The Perkiomen Valley:  Where Four Counties Come Together

2024 Barn Tour & Annual Meeting

Friday, June 7 – Sunday, June 9, 2024

Please join HBFF for our 2024 Barn Tour and Annual Meeting in the Perkiomen Valley of southeastern Pennsylvania, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, June 7 through 9.  We will be touring barns and structures in three counties on nine sites that range from a 1757 Colonial mansion to a 1909 bank barn with a massive forebay truss system.  This year’s tour is a mix of working farms, historic sites, and private residential properties.  All of our tour stops will illustrate a long tradition of agriculture in each of the major watersheds of the Perkiomen Valley.  Factors such as transportation networks, the proximity to urban areas, and technological developments all played a role in the growth of local farming in the Perkiomen region.  In addition, there are various common threads running through different sets of tour sites, such as closeness to significant creeks, the presence of mill structures, former dairying activities, Germanic roof framing, major additions or alterations to barns, and preserved farmland.

Our headquarters for Friday’s registration, dinner, and Annual Meeting will be the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in Pennsburg, Montgomery County.  Friday will also feature a drive-on-your-own tour of a working farm near Hosensack, Lehigh County and a historic house near Sumneytown along the Ridge Valley Creek.  Following our Annual Meeting, we will have a panel discussion exploring farming in the Perkiomen Valley, past and present, local farmland preservation, and the conservation of farm structures and artifacts with some long-time area residents with experience in these topics.

The Saturday bus tour (via school buses) will visit five barns in different parts of the Perkiomen Valley with a lunch stop at the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville.  Sunday will be a casual drive-on-your-own tour of two additional barns in the mid-Skippack Valley in central Montgomery County.  One of these is on a small horse farm, and the other is a vernacular museum preserving antique tools, equipment, and other ephemera of local agrarian heritage.  Details for tour registration can be found in the links below.  Please have your registration postmarked by May 7, 2024.  We hope to see you in June!

Douglas A. Rotondo                                                                                                                   
2024 Tour Coordinator & HBFF Secretary



2023 HBFF Annual Barn Tour: “The Agricultural Reform Movement & Barn Building in Cumberland County”

June 9 & 10, 2023, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Looking southwest at the McCormick-Basehore barn showing the east and north elevations.

The 2023 HBFF annual meeting and dinner will be held in Todd Hall of the Cumberland County Historical Society, 21 N. Pitt St., Carlisle. On Friday, June 9th, registration will begin at 11:30 a.m. in Todd Hall. Those registered for the Friday afternoon tour may start boarding the bus at the front of the Historical Society at 12:15 p.m.. The bus will leave promptly at 12:30p.m. The bus will arrive back in front of the Historical Society by 4:00 p.m. The HBFF annual silent auction will run from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Todd Hall, and dinner will also take place in Todd Hall at 5:30 p.m., followed by the annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. A PowerPoint presentation on the Cumberland County Agricultural Reform Movement will begin at 7:00 p.m.
On Saturday, June 10th, six barns in western Cumberland County will be toured. Our buses will pick up attendees at the Holiday Inn & Suites, 1501 Commerce Avenue, Carlisle, for the Saturday tour. The buses will leave promptly at 8:30 a.m. Following the tour of three barns in the morning, a traditional Central Pennsylvania style lunch, featuring pot pie, will be at 12:00 p.m. served by the Fellowship Committee of the Big Spring United Lutheran Church, 101 Crossroad School Road, Newville. There will be a short business meeting of the HBFF Board of Directors at 12:45 p.m. The bus or buses will leave the church promptly at 1:15 p.m. and will return to the Holiday Inn & Suites by 4:45 p.m.

Some Tour Highlights

Cumberland County’s central valley features a wide swath of fertile limestone soil dotted with numerous springs which attracted the Scotch-Irish settlers by the 1730s. However, within 50 years, the Pennsylvania Germans, commonly called the Pennsylvania Dutch, were drawn to the county’s rich farmlands as well. The first stop on the tour will be the Plank-Deckman barn, located within the county’s limestone belt. It features a brick-end barn built in 1854 by Jacob Plank, a well-known county plow maker. Plank invested some of the monies from his plow-making enterprise in a medium-size but fertile farm, replacing the log barn with a brick one, and building a brick addition to the front of the original log house.
Friday’s second stop will be the nearby Garver-Miller barn, a weatherboarded, double-crib log, bank barn. Unlike the typical county log construction with v-notch corner framing, the logs of this barn are mortised and tenoned into upright posts at the corners. Although early farm ownership is inconclusive, the barn appears to date to the first half of the nineteenth century.
The last stop on Friday’s tour will be the 1935 Standard Pennsylvania McCormick-Basehore barn. It replaced the barn struck by lightning that same year. It was constructed in the traditional manner by local barn builder, Henry Gerber. Basehore family members were longtime tenants of the McCormick family who gained great wealth as Harrisburg bankers and industrialists. By the 1870s they were investing some of their wealth in farms, largely located in eastern Cumberland. Their properties were improved by having good tenant farmers and advocating sound practices by those farmers through regular meetings of their “Farmer’s Club.” The McCormick-Basehore farm is located on shale-based soil, so its farmers needed to provide extra care to ensure bountiful crops.
Located on the Franklin County line, the Hensel-Winslow barn was also built on shale-based soil near the foothills of the Blue Mountain, and will be seen Saturday afternoon. Constructed in 1839 for German immigrant Christian Hensel, the stone and timber-frame Schweitzer barn has outshed granaries to the rear. Builder Philip Haun along with his brother David and principal crew member William McElwaine built the barn over a six-month period. McElwaine later married Hensel’s daughter Elizabeth, and David Haun was married to his sister, Eliza McElwaine. I inherited the Haun ledgers as a descendant of Jane (McElwaine) Brown. The Haun brothers were part of the transformation of the built landscape of western Cumberland.

Jerry A. Clouse, Tour Leader

Register for the 2023 Barn Tour

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2022 Yough Valley Barn Tour

The Yough Valley Tour, initially planned for 2020, is now scheduled for June 10-12, 2022.
This year’s tour emphasizes the relationship that farming in southwestern Pennsylvania had to the genesis and development of industries. Many of the original owners of farms on our tour operated farm-based industries—from iron smelting to distilling; from shipping to paper mills; from coal mines to beehive coke ovens. The Yough Valley (pronounced “yock” to rhyme with “jock”) is home to the West Overton Village, a distillery farm established by a Mennonite family from eastern Pennsylvania, and will be the starting point of our tour. The annual meeting will be held in the large brick Overholt Barn, which may be largest brick barn in the state.

Register today! Download your order form here.

Sponsorships are available for this event here.